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New Agreement Provides EPA Access to REACH Data

Siros_Steven_COLORBy Steven M. Siros


The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("U.S. EPA") has signed a "statement of intent" with the European Chemicals Agency ("ECHA") which is intended to provided U.S. EPA with access to data collected under the European Union's Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals ("REACH") law.  According to U.S. EPA, the statement of intent "puts in place a process for working together on a range of mutual interests, including toxicity testing, the hazard and risk assessment of chemicals, risk management tools, scientific collaboration and information exchange."  The two agencies also will share criteria for managing confidential business information with the goal being to increase the availability of chemical information to the public. This partnership between U.S. EPA and ECHA is viewed by some as a first step in the process in the United States to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA") to be more like the European Union's REACH law. REACH is based on the precautionary principle and chemical manufacturers in the European Union are required to generate data demonstrating conclusively that their products are safe before they can be marketed. TSCA, on the other hand, currently takes more of a risk-based approach to regulating chemical substances. TSCA currently provides U.S. EPA with the authority to ban or regulate chemical substances upon a showing that the chemical presents or will present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.